Wednesday, March 30, 2005

OV Vijayan

Noted Malayalam writer OV Vijayan passed away today morning.

Here's a brief obituary by Shobha Warrier.

Update (April 1): Yesterday I read The Legends of Khasak, Vijayan's most famous work, for the second time. I had read the Malayalam original, Khasakinte Ithihasam, almost fifteen years ago while I was in college. I remember finding the novel interesting then. I found it interesting yesterday too. But that's it; it's not the Malayalam novel for me, as it is for many many readers. (Vijayan is a cult figure in the Malayalam literary landscape.)

In fact I thought of reading The Legends of Khasak again as I had forgotten most of it! Vijayan is a great writer. But I guess he's not my kind of writer. Five years from now, chances are that I'll forget The Legend of Khasak once again. I do not recollect anything interesting from The Saga of Dharmapuri either, which I read only three or four years ago.

Incidentally, my favourite Malayalam books are Vaikom Mohammed Basheer's Pathummayute Aatu (Pathumma's Goat), and Vailoppilli Sreedhara Menon's long poem Kutiyozhikkal (Home Evacuation). I read these works almost around the same time I read Khasakinte Ithihasam. I would love to read Basheer and Vailoppilli again because I loved reading those books. I wouldn't have to read those again for the reason that today I fail to resonate with that wonderful first reading experience.

Finally, via Kitabkhana, two good links: obituaries by Prabha Varma and VK Madhavan Kutty.


At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the photo of the ageing author you show is a very poignant intimation of mortality. one senses in it an uncanny resemblance with the shroud of turin - perhaps not a coincidence since the younger vijayan had an almost christ-like visage.

At 1:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The Malayalam word 'Kutiyozhikkal' is a technical term for forcibly EVICTING a tenant or a serf/'kutiyaan' (a very unfortunately common act in feudal days). 'Home evacuation' does not probably bring out the full impact and connotations of the word - and has some awkwardly irrelevant connotations of its own.

Anyway, enough of nitpicking.! It was heartwarming to see in Locana an obituary without the usual cliches.


At 2:35 AM, Blogger Anand said...

Thanks. "Home Eviction" perhaps?

At 2:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'It's Dusk in Khasak', N.S. Madhavan's obit in this week's Outlook magazine is an elegant tribute to the departed writer.

At 4:35 AM, Blogger Anand said...

I found Dusk in Khasak a bit disappointing -- especially comparing Vijayan with Garcia Marquez. To my mind, Vijayan is just one of the many good writers in Malayalam. He's no Marquez by any stretch of imagination!

At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Madhavan didn’t compare Vijayan with Marquez. He said" The Legends of Khasak impacted Malayalam fiction in the same way did Spanish literature, and later the world at large"

It’s true that Khasak had such a powerful impact on Malayalee readers. It’s also not a good practice to compare authors.

At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i found dusk in khasak a rewarding reading. of course, ns did not compare marquez with ov. he said about the impact(one on malayalam & the other, on world at large.) and that both the books were written at the same time. the later, i found was very interesting.
i don't blame anand for thinking so. even i thought so till i saw the print version.what is on the net has left out some words.

At 8:24 AM, Blogger Anand said...

Yeah, may be Madhavan didn't quite say that. Incidentally I read the print edition first, and still I had that impression. But you'll agree that there have been a lot of Vijayan - Marquez comparisons in the past.

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(I got introduced to this site recently, so sorry for the delay in commenting.)
I can't believe that none of you is infuriated by the obituary Shoba Warrier wrote. O. V Vijayan is one of the greatest men ever to walk planet earth. He is in a class of his own. It is just outrageous to see that how easily she brought him down to such mediocrity. Anyone who has ever read Khasakinte Ithihasam could never compare him or the novel to anything else. It is unbelievable how nonchalantly she says that she has forgotten the book. How can you forget Ravi? How can you not empathize with his existential problems? How can you read the book and not be fascinated by appukili who knows the heartache and pain of generations, but not able to grasp the very moment he lives in. A novel of that caliber would have never existed in the world literature, if it weren’t for the intellect of the great O.V Vijayan. Every little detail in that book has a purpose and every single character has a soul. The whole village of khasak comes into being with every stroke of Vijayan’s pen. It is a painting of words. He is the only novelist able to capture the essence of humanity and actually dared to let the world take a peek at it. He wrote for the human beings about the human beings. Vijayan did not write for a cult, he wrote for the human kind. Khasakinte Ithihasam is able to transcend beyond languages and cultures and that is what makes the novel so unique. As human beings we owe it to Vijayan for his generosity in opening the window to another realm of existance. There is much more to write but I feel that my words are too limited. O.V Vijayan and Khasakinte Ithihasam is the single most literary piece that restructured the world literature. He definitely deserves much better than this.

At 11:02 PM, Blogger padma said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote the above sentences deserve a big applause. It teaches us how to appreciate our own writers. kudos to you the unknown writer.

At 3:50 AM, Blogger Anand said...

Yes, that comment showed how passionate she/he is about her/his most favourite writer. But I don't quite see why we should appreciate our own writers. Who constitute our own is another question. Who are we anyway?

Also appreciation need not always be unbridled adulation or idolation. Meaningful criticism is appreciation of the work too.

That said, I don't think that highly about Khasakinte Ithihasam. A comment that I posted on another blog may be of some interest in this context.

At 4:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your post about khasak in the other blog. i am not sure you got it right. i re-read the novel and found no anachronism in presenting nizamali by vijayan. he joins athar's beedi company with 10 workers later. nizamali's progression from a 16-year-old boy with red lips to khaliyar was logical and without inconsistancies.
sorry, buddy, there ain't any nit to pick in here

At 4:41 AM, Blogger Anand said...

I really appreciate your taking the time out to read the novel again, and many thanks for the comments.

This is what I had in mind when I "nitpicked". The night before Allah-Pitcha goes to Koomankavu for five days (end of Chapter 3), Nizam Ali's long hair prompts him to think about Attar. At this point Vijayan mentions Attar's ten starved factory workers. Nizam Ali joins Attar's factory after 5 or 6 days. From the beginning of Chapter 4, we know that Nizam Ali is one of the ten workers (Nizam Ali works better than the nine others in the company, etc).

Of course it's possible that Attar fired a worker, and Nizam Ali was a replacement!

Off the topic: I would like to get to know you better. It'll be nice if you could drop an e-mail. My ID is ananduk at gmail dot com.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger blokes said...

may his spirit soar free. We knew him from way back in the early 90s when we were neighbors in Satya Marg, N delhi. we had some spirited discussions on the presence/absence of God!

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